Top 7 Challenges in Mobile App Testing
According to Statista, it is projected that the Mobile app store revenues worldwide will grow to US $76.5 billion in the year 2017. A Marin Software study reveals that in the UK, mobile devices now account for 44.8% of ad impressions, 50% of clicks, 46% of spend and 43% of conversions. People’s obsessions with smartphones have enticed businesses to innovate and build interesting applications and also think of ways to improve their relationships with their customers through such apps.
Designing a user-friendly and killer mobile app is undoubtedly a difficult task but surprisingly, that’s a lesser problem for businesses today. With availability of many tools, technologies, and easy access to good talent, developing a mobile app has become relatively easy. But businesses are concerned about the testing of their mobile apps.
With millions and millions of options available on the app stores, users have become unforgiving – they uninstall the apps if they find those to be non-user-friendly, not serving the purpose, or worse, have errors.
The issues with mobile app testing –
Let’s analyze some of the key challenges of mobile app testing:
1. Usability and User Experience:
Stellar user experience is a must-have for mobile apps. The app testing needs to ensure that the apps are absolutely easy to use and the features do not confuse the users. The obvious features should be easily accessible on the screen and should provide the highest value for the users’ time. The user experience needs to be similar across all smartphones and platforms. App QA engineers need to ensure that they design and develop separate test cases for testing mobile apps because obviously the user experience is completely different than the desktop usage. Testers need to always remember and ensure the thumb rule of mobile usability – the user should be able to perform the desired task in less than 3 seconds!
2. Operating Systems:
As the usage of smartphones is growing, the users are also becoming smarter with the phone usage. They are using their phones to download newer apps, view websites, be active on social networking sites, make purchases, and also maintain business communications. As the phone demands are increasing and usage patterns are changing, the expectations from mobile operating systems are also growing. There are many mobile operating systems in the market today and each operating system has multiple versions. The complexity of supported platforms has gone to new level. When you make your app compatible with KitKat, Lollipop is already there and you start hearing the news about Marshmallow (you know what I mean!). Businesses need to make sure that their apps are truly device agnostic and work well on various operating systems and their versions. This problem becomes bigger when there are multiple mobile browsers and their versions to be tested.
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3. Screen Sizes:
In March 2015, Tim Cook announced that Apple has sold over 700 million iPhones in total. It is estimated that by the end of 2014 3 billion Android smartphones are sold. Then there are Windows phones and Blackberry too. While we have the numbers for the popular brands, there is also no dearth of many local players who are continuously launching new phones. Every new version of the phone possibly comes with a new screen size. Thanks to the changing mobile behaviors, consumers are adapting to and responding positively to the screen size changes. Businesses today have no choice but to tweak their mobile apps design and the behavior to adapt to the new phones and continue to offer exceptional user experience to all the users across various smartphones and screen sizes.
For every geography, the preferred choice of devices is different and therefore you might be able to cover 90% of your app users through a variety of 5-6 phones. However, if you need to test multiple mobile apps catering to a variety of audience in different geographical locations, if your mobile app testing lab has only 7-8 devices, looking at the vast smartphone market, you are probably covering only 25% of your customers.
4. Variety of Carrier Networks:
The apps which are supported across multiple geographical locations and are available in multiple languages need to be tested with various operators across multiple countries. This is very crucial because for many apps, the user experience and usability depends a lot on the performance of the available carrier’s network. The app testing challenges increase with such increased complexity.
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5. Battery Life:
Battery life has been biggest complaint of smartphone users and mobile users are very sensitive about the phone battery life. Every smartphone manufacturer is struggling to enable faster performance, better gaming, video viewing etc. while providing a long battery life. On top of this, if any app further drains the battery, then the users don’t hesitate to uninstall such apps. While app developers need to take care of battery consumption, it is also the responsibility of the testers to ensure that apart from the app features, usability, and stability, they test the apps for power consumption as well.
We all keep reading the stories about site hacking and data leaks. Businesses are also struggling to ensure apps security. Stats suggest that more than 50% of the apps don’t take enough precautions while revealing the secured information about the application or users and many apps don’t even have proper encryption methods. Mobile app testers need to have deep understanding of security testing.
Mobile apps must account for limited and variable network bandwidth. Even a shared mobile network can have a significant impact on the performance of the app. The mobile apps users are very impatient with slow performance. A research by The Aberdeen Group has revealed that around 25 percent of app users abandon a mobile app if they experience a delay of more than three seconds. The performance testing is a fairly technical job which involves testing of numerous aspects such as CPU utilization, memory utilization, cache size availability, memory leakage by the app, internet data usage, offline data usage, caching, and number of round trips etc.
Mobile apps testing is a more complicated and different ballgame. It requires a thorough knowledge of testing and QA methodologies, deep understanding of mobile apps space and also the understanding of multiple areas like technology, hardware, usability, user experience. The testers also need access to test labs to ensure maximum test coverage. It can be practically impossible as well as costly to create a test labs with multiple physical devices but testing only on simulators is not 100% reliable. Don’t rely on anyone who is not experienced in this field.